Original Articles

Make mine spicy – by Sindhyar Talpur

Breaking News Grenade. (Courtesy: Dawn/Dawn News Pakistan)

 

I once went to dine out with this Gentleman, an acquaintance of mine. He advised that due to his health condition, he was only able to dine on soup. I agreed and we went to a place, reputed to have some palatable soup. As we dug in to our respective bowls, my companion took a sip, made a face and quickly ask the server to bring in some ‘masalas’ (spices) He then sheepishly grinned at me and said “hai tu yeh pheeka soup sehat Kay liye acha, magar humein masaley begair maza nahi aata” or “this blend soups is good for the health, but we can never enjoy it without some spices”.

Another time, I remember watching news of an actress that had died of heart attack. The woman had a heart condition and was of senior age. Since woman was well-known, many tv channels reached on spot to cover her death. And since it was a slow news day, so woman’s mourners, including her actor friends were shown on tv, as they wept for their departed friend/relative.
All of a sudden one of the reporters just started to questions:

how did the woman die? How could she die? Was there any motive? Who was the doctor that treated her? Has anyone seen her medical reports?

All this while family grieved, and none of them had till then actually thought her death as suspicious. Yes it was another “humein masaley begair maza nahi aata” moment.

I recall these incidents and anecdotes related to health and mortality, in the context of President Zardari’s trip to Dubai for health reasons.

Moment news broke of his departure to Dubai for health reasons, two thoughts came to me. He could be going for a check up, as was claimed. Or it could be serious. I accepted that, hoped for the best, wished him health and moved on to next thing. What a fool am I?
In fact Zardari had actually ran off to avoid being sacked by Gen. Kiyani, his COAS, in an expected coup.

No, actually it was Obama. He had TOLD Zardari to sack Kiyani, fearing Sharif’s fate at hand of Musharaff he rushed of using health as an excuse.

No its actually related to Memogate and NRO cases, he is absconding from the courts.

No wasn’t Farah Isphani with him? He is just seeking to take her away from the country under a guise.

Or its that he has had enough of wealth gathering, knows his graph is down and moved away to Dubai. His son is back, to take over the reins. PPP needs another Bhutto name to revitalise itself for next elections.

But is it not possible Zardari was told by Army to leave so as they could do as they want, while amiable PM Gillani remains a front for all?

These are some of the few rumours, I am sure I missed out a few, but you get the gist.

There is perhaps a small possibility that official news was correct? And that in fact President was getting a medical check up?

Ok but why Dubai, why not London? Because Dubai is closer? Why not even closer Pakistan?

Dubai has better facilities and he has a medical treatment history there?

Am not convinced.

Why did Hilary Clinton issue a clarification, what is to her?

Because you just implicated her President Obama, she is answering the question you asked?

I am still not convinced – there has to be something afoot – Zardari is a cunning man, I don’t trust him!

When there was liberalisation of media, so as to allow people to access more news so as they can participate in their democratic duty better and keep their public officials in check. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. What has actually happened is that instead of just reporting, editorial bias has entered the news channels, with invariably always an anti-government slant, as that is popular. This would have even been acceptable had then what was reported was news, instead the line between facts and rumours is removed all together, with Innuendo and insinuations abound.

Investigative journalism is almost non-existent. There is sensational news reporting, rumour reporting, official announcements being reported. Then hours long commentary on this. All lazy work. But hey, it sells!
Media has perhaps instituted some u-turns from political party leaders on some issues, got a few corrupt and some literally thieving law makers in trouble. But it has not at all helped in improving over all governance, and the reason is simple. It never reports on them. There is hardly ever accolades or even mention of people who have actually tried to make a difference. Take for example the Sindh education department’s proposed endeavour to modernise the textbooks. It hardly ever got a mention in the media, if any. In the end, powerful vested interests won the day and hardly anyone got to know of it. There was no reason why minister responsible would get his neck out to bring about that change, where he could easily just not rock the boat and sail smoothly? Media has failed in numerous such instances, it has failed to bring about any change.

Granted Liberalised media was a good thing, though even better would have been a freer PTV. Since then however media has become a race to say the most popular thing, get the most popular news, become the most popular channel so as to gain greater advertisement revenue. If this means changing the dull old news to rumoured filled half hourly ‘news’ and hour long ‘commentary’ on those rumours, then so be it. Doesn’t matter if they are true or not, they sell.

Give people what they want and consensus evidently is “humein masaley begair maza nahi aata”.

About the author

Sindhyar Talpur

3 Comments

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  • i can be quite certain your name is not sindhyar talpur. It has to be something else.
    Pakistanis believe in theories more than black and white

  • Good job of covering most of the rumours Sindhyar.

    I was shocked about the fact that I didn’t hear of any attempt to change the Sindh Textbook Board, reforming our bigotted textbooks is something close to my heart.

    Education reform, police reform, local elections, these are things I care about. Will keep an eye on it, but in the meantime good job covering the nasty nature of our privatised news and a great metaphor for how its reported.